Because Medicaid is a public program, if officials accuse you of fraud, it can mean having to answer to criminal charges. Often times, a misunderstanding can lead to big trouble for you. Officials are often quick to judge what might be an innocent situation. Fortunately, if you’re accused of New York Medicaid fraud, a New York Medicaid recipient fraud criminal lawyer can help you address the charges and protect your interests.
Types of Medicaid fraud charges
The severity of the Medicaid fraud charges that you face depend largely on the amount of money involved. New York law looks at the amount of payments that you improperly receive in a year’s time. If the payments are a low amount, you may face a misdemeanor.
Medicaid fraud requires intent. The law says that Medicaid fraud can only occur “knowingly and willfully.” You don’t have to know how much money you’re getting improperly, but you have to know that you’re providing false information on purpose. If you just make a mistake, you haven’t committed a crime. You might have to pay back the improper payments, but if you make an honest mistake, you haven’t committed willful fraud.
Charges of Medicaid fraud in New York are divided into degrees. First degree is the most serious and fifth degree is the least serious. Fifth degree is a Class A misdemeanor. It can involve any amount of money. If your offense involves $3,000 or more, it’s a fourth degree offense. That’s a Class E felony. Third, second and first degree health care fraud offenses involve progressively more amounts of money. A first-degree offense is a Class B felony offense that requires fraudulent payments of more than one million dollars over the course of a year.
The penalties that you face for Medicaid fraud depend on the specific circumstances of the offense. It’s up to the judge to decide your sentence based on what happened in your case. One penalty that you might face is time in jail. The penalty for a Class A misdemeanor is not more than one year in jail. The judge can give you the entire year, or they can give you no time at all.
If you’re facing Medicaid fraud in the first, second, third or fourth degree, there’s a chance that you could spend time in prison for the offense. Whether you spend time in prison depends on your criminal history, the specific circumstances of the case, your positive contributions to society and even your remorse. Your New York Medicaid recipient fraud criminal lawyer can help you create a plan to put your best foot forward at sentencing.
If you’re convicted of Medicaid fraud, you may have to pay back the amount that you were paid in error. You’ll likely also have to pay fines to the court. In addition, you may lose your eligibility to receive benefits in the future. Your conviction may stay on your criminal record which may have an impact on your employment.
What defenses can I raise?
If you’re facing an allegation of Medicaid fraud, your best bet is not to talk to any investigators. Instead, your attorney can speak on your behalf. When you talk to investigators, they might try to admit what you say in court. They may or may not remember or honestly report what you exactly said. This can create a mess for you to try to get a fair day in court. Remember that you have the right not to incriminate yourself.
Because Medicaid fraud requires you to act purposefully, your best defense might be that the fraud didn’t happen on purpose. The government might assume that everyone’s guilty, but the jury might take an honest look at your story and agree that your mistake was accidental. Depending on the situation, your New York Medicaid fraud criminal lawyer might even present the information to the state’s attorney and ask them to dismiss the charges before trial.
How an attorney can help?
Your attorney can help you evaluate your case in order to determine your best defenses. The first thing you should do is look to see if there are defenses that can allow you to confidently take your case to trial. Then, your Medicaid attorney can work with you in order to determine the best plan for you to present your case.
You can also discuss whether it’s in your best interests to take your case to trial. You might choose to consider non-trial offers like a plea agreement. While a plea agreement isn’t in your best interests in every case, a plea offer may be a way to lessen your jail exposure and other related penalties. Your attorney also helps you put your best foot forward if you ultimately have a sentencing hearing. At each stage, your attorney helps you advocate for your best interests and fight for a fair result.